Temporary / Contract Employment Trend Here To Stay?

Besides Logging, Temporary and Employment Services showed the most gain in new workers in 2013 according to office secretary 2the Wall Street Journal.   I believe that this trend will continue.    With increased regulation on employers and the high cost of benefits, it makes more fiscal sense to hire temporary or contract employees, especially for small business owners.

The difference between a temporary worker and a contract worker is vast though.  Temporary workers are usually procured through a service and are transient workers, requiring income while looking for a full-time position with benefits.   Contract workers usually own their own business, and provide ad hoc or specific assignment work for various employers.

Other benefits of hiring a contract worker over a temporary worker include:

  • Usually no middleman – since you are contracting directly with the employee, there are no service procurement costs, which equates to lower rates.
  • Reduced training time – because there is no turnover, you only need to train once and then can call on the contractor when needed.
  • Higher dedication to work product – work performed is a direct reflection on the contract worker and their business reputation.
  • Experience – Chances are higher that a contract employee will be more skilled in his/her field, than a temporary employee, since the contractor has built his/her business around their skill sets.
  • More references available – If the contractor is good, references and word-of-mouth referrals should abound.  If the contractor is bad, expect bad online reviews.

If you need administrative assistance, consider utilizing an independent contractor, such as Southeastern Admin.

Lora Zibman

Southeastern Admin, the small business administrative solution

www.SoutheasternAdmin.com  |  770-609-0904

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A Time For Thanks

2013 Thanksgiving Card

Have you taken the time to thank your customers this year?    Thanksgiving is by far the best time: it’s the start of the holiday season rush, everyone celebrates Thanksgiving, and it’s non-denominational.     If you did not take the time to thank your clients prior to Thanksgiving, there is still time to close out 2013 by showing your appreciation.    While holiday cards and gifts are a great way to connect directly with your customers, they can be out of reach for some budgets.

A great alternative is to send email-based communications and newsletters.  I have used Vertical Response, Constant Contact and iContact, and can tell you the best application by far is iContact.    Pricing for one of these subscriptions can vary significantly depending upon how many contacts you have in your database.    There is, however, a free alternative.   MailChimp is a great program that allows you to upload up to 2,000 contacts and send them unlimited emails.  Of course you don’t want to bombard your client-base; I would recommend sending monthly or bi-monthly communications.

Every business has a lot to communicate.    You need to make your clients aware of what is happening in your industry, what new services you are offering, what awards/recognitions your business has received, what’s happening in your community, why your services have value, and much more.

As we all know, timing is everything, and being in front of your clients and prospects on a regular, monthly basis does pay off.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to learn new software, Southeastern Admin has the experience that can help you get your monthly campaign going by:

  • uploading your contacts
  • create appropriate lists for your market segments
  • create eye-catching email templates that match your business and branding
  • add in links back to your website and social media; and
  • create original content.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to thank you customers for their business!

Lora Zibman

Southeastern Admin, the small business administrative solution

www.SoutheasternAdmin.com  |  770-609-0904

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Boss’ Day Etiquette

Today is Boss’ Day!   If you think you’re having a hard day, try to being the boss.

fell down

It’s funny the way things do and don’t progress.  When I started my career, we were called secretaries; now we’re called “Administrative Professionals.”  Your boss though, is still called a “Boss”.  Trying to find a good picture for this post was even a challenge; look up “boss” on Google images and what will you find?   Pictures of villains.   How sad.

For those of you unfamiliar how this day evolved, I found a quick synopsis below on Wikipedia:

Patricia Bays Haroski registered “National Boss’ Day” with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1958. She was working as a secretary for State Farm Insurance Company in Deerfield, Illinois, at the time and chose October 16, which was her father’s birthday. She was working for her father at the time. Four years later, in 1962, Illinois Governor Otto Kerner backed Haroski’s registration and officially proclaimed the day.

Hallmark Cards did not offer a Boss’ Day card for sale until 1979. It increased the size of its National Boss’ Day line by 28 percent in 2007.

I believe it was around 2006 when I first heard of Admin/Secretary’s Day.  I found a handwritten note on legal paper that said “Happy Admin Day” in my chair when I arrived at work in the morning.    My boss said that he heard it was Admin’s Day on the radio on the way in to work, and did not have time to get me anything.    Now this may seem like slapdash to you, but I really did appreciate it.

If you’re a worker bee, like most of us, you might be wondering what is the appropriate response to this day.  Are you supposed to buy your boss a gift, or a card, or just acknowledge your boss for the income and opportunities that he/she has provided to you?

I believe proper etiquette as to how you acknowledge Boss’ Day really depends upon your relationship.  Because we had a strong relationship, I took the handwritten note as it was offered – acknowledgement for my work and dedication.  Being a secretary/admin, however, I did make sure to put in my calendar the date for Boss’ Day going forward, so I could actually go get a card!   But that was my job – making sure that everything got done when it was supposed to and planning ahead.

Bottom line – you should take the time to at least verbally thank the person who provides you with income and career opportunities.  In this economic and political environment it takes a LOT of hard work to keep everything going in a business.

To all the business owners out there who struggle each and every day to keep it all together and push forward, HAPPY BOSS’ DAY!

Lora Zibman |   Southeastern Admin

P.S. – If you’re wondering about the grammar controversy of the word Boss’ v. Boss’s, you can learn more here.

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Your Online Presence

Getting Startedwww

Mike Remer with LocallyVisible shared some tips to quickly check your online presence and ratings.

If you’re just starting out and want to list your business, where to start?   Mike recommends starting with Google, Google PlusYahoo and Bing.  Other good directory sites are Yelp, Insider Pages, CitySearch, Kudzu, Manta, Mapquest, YellowPages, SuperPages, Foursquare and Angie’s List (you can create free business listing).

Make sure that you are listing your business information consistently and accurately.   For Google, listing is not instantaneous.   They will mail a postcard containing a PIN to the address you list as your business, which you will have to enter on the set up site to verify that you are the owner of the business.  This can take up to 5 business days.

Check Your Listing & Reviews

If you’ve been in business for a while and want to make sure that your business is listed correctly and check your online reputation, go to http://I-GM.com/reputationreport.   Just enter in your business phone number, and this site will quickly check your listing on major sites and provide a quick snapshot on how your company has been reviewed by your customers.

Reviews are very important.  How many people do you know who search for local services online exclusively?   If you have a choice between a provider with 5 stars and 30+ reviews, and one with 1-2 reviews with 3 stars, which would you choose?

Encourage your customers to review your business on sites you choose.  A follow up customer satisfaction survey might be a great way for you to understand how your business is perceived, collect quotes, and allow you the opportunity to ask your clients to review you online as well.   You can create a free survey using SurveyMonkey.  You can also create a free email / newsletter broadcast, asking your customers to review your business using MailChimp.  Or, you can use the services of a professional company like LocallyVisible, who can do it all for you, including assisting you with addressing any negative feedback you might encounter online.

If you’re a client of Southeastern Admin, you can review our services here.

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Free Can Be Dangerous

It’s been a while since my last post.   Thank you to my clients who are keeping me busy!    I wanted to remind everyone to make sure that when you are downloading “free” software, that you need to make sure to always choose the Custom or Advanced installation.    99% of the time, when you choose the Typical or Recommended installation, you will be loading all sorts of other programs and there’s a huge risk of downloading malware.

Here’s a real life example.  I needed a color identifying program so 9-30-2013 12-02-44 PMthat I could match the colors from one of my client’s website to her new newsletter which I am creating.   Someone told me about ColorCop.net.   I started to download their software.  I immediately chose the “Advanced” download, and see that the first thing they want to install on my is a Delta Toolbar.   WARNING WILL ROBINSON – do not install this onto your PC – ever.  I had to hire someone to clean up my PC after I made this mistake.   So, was I safe in proceeding after I unchecked the boxes?   No.  It then proceeded to tell me that it would install several other programs, including TopArcade.  I had to quickly cancel the installation, and do a check of all the programs that were installed on my PC today.  I had to uninstall each of them and ensure that they were completely gone.

I still needed the program, so I went to CNet.com.   I love this site,9-30-2013 12-45-00 PM as they have a lot of shareware choices.   I found another program, “JustColorPicker” that is similar to ColorCop; it offers RGB, HEX and HTML color code identification.    I proceeded with the download, and again made sure to choose Custom Set Up.   Again, the site was going to download a toolbar if I did not uncheck those options.   Once I hit “next step” there were other programs that it would have installed, had I not clicked “Decline”.    At least this download offered me the choice to Decline these options.

I am now using Just Color Picker, and the program is working to my liking.   The morale of the story is to BE CAREFUL.   If your PC security comes up with a warning window, do not ignore it!  Even if you really, really want the program/functionality, try to find an alternative program.  Chances are, there’s one out there.

I am the queen of cheap, but I have learned my lesson in willy-nilly downloading.   Stay alert and have a good antivirus program.

Best wishes,  Lora Zibman

Southeastern Admin  |  www.SoutheasternAdmin.com  |  770-609-0904

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Do You Have A Business Plan?

Every business needs a business plan, and even more so if you are bus planhome-based business of one.   You might think that just because “you are the company” and you know what the focus of your business should be, that would be enough.

Taking the time to think critically about your marketing, branding, operations, competition and the oh-so serious reality of financing is crucial to your success.  It’s been almost a year since I opened the “virtual” doors of my business, and like most people starting a small business, did not thoroughly do my own due diligence.   Would I change my decision?  No.  However, I have now have a more real picture of what my future can look like based on experience and having a wonderful support network. 

While completing your business plan, you need to take a long hard look at the realities of all that must go into operating a business:

  • Cultivating clients – are you a decent sales person?  are you good at networking?  can you stand up and sing your own praises?
  • Keeping the books – are you detailed oriented?  will you invest in QuickBooks or some other accounting software to track your expenses and income?  will you take credit cards – do you know the cost using that service?
  • Operations – have you clearly thought out the processes involved in your businesses’ operations (from order in through to billing and collections, if necessary)?
  • Marketing – how will you market your business?  do you have the technical abilities to keep up with social media, or are you prepared to pay for print advertising?  will it all be word of mouth – are you networking on a weekly basis?
  • Competition – do you seriously know your competition, beside Googling to see how many are out there?  how are you different from them?  is your competition successful – if so, why?
  • Financing – have you created a cash flow forecast to know when/if you will need to supplement your income?  can you pay for the necessary licenses, permits, legal and tax services?  will you want to attend trade shows and/or hand our marketing items?  will you need certain office equipment or software?  will you have to purchase inventory?

Even potential turnkey business owners need to take all these things into consideration.

Creating amountain climb2 business plan will help you understand the potential of your business, with all its opportunities and challenges, and will also allow you to be able to communicate that vision to others.   As your business moves along, you need to keep reviewing and updating your plan, and updating your goals and milestones.   Create goals for 6 months, 1 year, and 3 years as well, to make sure that you are on the path you envisioned and review these goals on a monthly basis.   If your path is blocked, create a new one.  The point is know where you are going, and to be able to see the results of what you have created.  It’s important to know the mountain you’re climbing, but is just as important to be encouraged by seeing how far you’ve climbed.  Success spurs success!

While it’s true that there’s nothing better than being your own boss, you need to keep in mind that there does need to be a boss who’s responsible for the direction and vision of your business.

There are many Business Plan templates on the internet that you can find.    Here is one I have used as my starting point and then tweaked substantially for my own vision.   Click here –  BUSINESS PLAN.

Happy selling for years to come!

Southeastern Admin  |  www.SoutheasternAdmin.com  |  770-609-0904

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Hot Apps For Travel & More

Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, we’ve discoveredapps these great apps that will make your life easier while on the go. While most of the links below are for Android, you can also find these or similar apps at the Apple app Store.

  • TripAdvisor – This is one I use whenever traveling. TripAdvisor offers millions of traveler reviews and opinions by actual travelers, photos and maps so you can plan your perfect trip. You’ll also be able to discover cool and interesting things to do at any destination. You can use the “Near Me Now” feature to discover options near your current location. TripAdvisor makes it easy to find airfare deals, the best hotels, great restaurants, and fun things to do, wherever you go.  Free.
  •  Kayak – If you’re looking to find a good deal, Kayak’s the #1 Mobile Travel app. It compares hundreds of sites at once.   You can conduct flight and car searches, as well as hotel searches and booking right in the app. You’ll also be able to look up baggage fees and access airline numbers and airport information. Kayak also features Flight tracker and My Trips, so you have your itinerary at your fingertips. Free.
  •  Travelocity – Using your voice (English only), you can quickly search and book your next flight, hotel and rental car straight from the Travelocity app. Features include being able to check flight status, airport delays, TSA wait times, and view trip itineraries.   They also offer savings on “Top Secret hotels” using their new Mobile Exclusive Deals widget. Free.
  •  Hotel Tonight – If you’re looking for a last-minute deal on hotel rooms, this app allows you to save up to 70% in 12 countries, including the US, UK, Mexico, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy. They do limit the deal selection, but guarantee that this will allow you to get the best rates possible from their offerings.   There is also a real person that you can speak with 24/7 if you have any questions.   Free.
  •  Valet  – This is a terrific app if you frequently rent cars, or if you just happen to be absent-minded. Valet remembers where you park so you don’t have to.   Just open Valet and click on “Find My Car,” and the app will automatically find where your car is located. Users can also set meter time reminders to you save yourself from getting a ticket. ($3.99).
  •  Digital Receipts – If you’re always on the go, and not particularly organized, this is a great way to track your expenses, and you won’t have to worry about lost receipts.   You can either use your camera to take a quick snap of your receipt or, you can simply tap your phone at checkout on the counter of participating stores. You can then view your report and do your expenses when you’re ready. Free.
  •  CamCard – Used by 50m+ business professionals, CamCard takes a picture of business cards you collect and instantly saves them to your phone’s Contacts.   It syncs all your cards across smartphones, tablets and computers. Free and a Pay Versions.
  •  Heard – This is the coolest thing ever, but only iPhone users get to use this – for now. Ever wanted to record something you just heard? It’s now possible! Heard allows users to record sound from up to 5 minutes in the past. Once you open up the Heard app it will constantly record surround audio into a self-destruct buffer, saving moments that you find worthy. You can then share recorded audio through e-mail or Facebook. There is a free version that records up to 12 seconds in the past, or a $1.99 version that will record up to 5 minutes in the past.

Lora Zibman  |  Southeastern Admin

www.SoutheasternAdmin  |  770-609-0904

Content For Facebook – Fast!

This month I wanted to talk about the advantages of using an RSS (Rich Site Summary) Feed Reader.

rss feed

We’re all busy, and Facebook can become a chore.  If you frequently visit the same sites for content for your Facebook reposts, or if you sign up for their newsletters which then clogs up your inbox, STOP!

If the site or blog that you frequent offers RSS feeds, use them to consolidate all new articles into a single Reader site.   This way, you just log into one site and pull off all the content you need in seconds versus minutes.   You will know it’s fresh (no more posting 3 day old articles) and you won’t get sidetracked.  It’s easy to get lost once you hit a trade website, clicking on other articles that have nothing to do with what you want to post.

You can categorize the feeding sources, so if you post about banking and, more specifically about lending, you can create separate categories.  You can also create personal categories to stay up-to-date with your interests/hobbies.   Then just find the right article, open it, copy the URL and post to your page – easy peasy!

A friendly reminder that if you use posted content for your blog, plagiarism is a no-no!   We all know that it takes quite a while and focused-thought to create a blog post.  If you repost someone else’s content, you need to give them full credit as well as linking back to the original article. You can though, use the feeds to find news trends and then write about that subject from your own perspective.  Don’t forget to activate RSS feeds on your own site as well to gain more traffic and exposure.

If you’re already familiar with RSS feeds, then you undoubtedly know that Google is pulling the plug on it’s Reader.   If you haven’t already migrated from Google, you need to do so before July 1st.

A great, free Reader is Feedly. This is feed site only.  You can also migrate your Google feeds to Feedly.   For directions, click here.   Again, make sure you move them somewhere before July 1st.  There are a lot more Readers out there, so look around and find one that best suits your needs.

If you were an iGoogle user, I found an article listing other alternatives that you might want to check out.  I might blog about one of these later.   I am so disappointed that they are doing away with the feeds – I used iGoogle to keep all my information on one page (my feeds, Gmail, Google Calendar, Facebook, etc.).

Still don’t think you have the time?   Call Southeastern Admin to manage your Facebook and Blog posts.

Lora Zibman

http://www.SoutheasternAdmin.com | 770-609-0904

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Creating an LLC in Georgia

So, you have this great idea and want to start your own business here in Georgia?   You might want to consider setting up a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC).

For a complete listing of corporation types, you can view thellcm on the IRS’s website.  Limited liability companies provide the most flexible way of doing business.  With an LLC, you get both the informality and tax benefits of a partnership, plus personal protection from business debts provided to corporations.

FULL DISCLOSURE:  I am not an attorney or tax advisor.   You may want to consult with an attorney both before setting up your own LLC, and you definitely want to speak with your accountant to understand the tax implications and filing requirements.

The steps, though, are pretty simple to create your own LLC here in Georgia.

Step One A:   Secure your Company Name with the State.  Potential company names should to be checked for availability by searching the Secretary of State’s Corporations Division business name database.

Be thorough with your initial search.   You may be denied if there is another name that is similar to the one that you want.  The name reservation fee is $25.  Once you have secured your name, you then have 30 days to complete the registration with the State.

Step One B:   Check the availability of Your Domain Name.  You really should do these first two steps in conjunction with one another.  Don’t purchase the domain name for your website until you have secured the desired Company Name.    Similarly, if you were able to get the Company Name that you wanted, but can’t secure the domain name you want, you might want to rethink the Company Name choice.

Step Two:  Create an Articles of Organization document for the State and Complete a Transmittal Information Form.  Once you have your name secured, you need to complete your Articles of Organization with the Georgia Secretary of State Corporations Division Corporations.  The articles must include the LLC’s name and, the names and addresses of the LLC’s managers (that would be you).  You need to use a real address, not a USPS or UPS post box.

Step Three:   A completed Transmittal Information Georgia Limited Liability form must be filed with the articles. The form must include: the LLC’s name and address (again not a post box address); the name and address of the person filing the articles; all the organizers’ names and addresses; and the LLC’s registered agent’s name and address.  The filing fee is $100. The articles and transmittal form must be filed by mail.  Don’t forget that you will also have to renew your LLC each year.  The cost to renew is $50, and you can do it online.

Step Four:  Prepare an Operating Agreement (not required).   An LLC operating agreement is not required in Georgia, but is advisable.  An operating agreement will help you guard your limited liability status, head off financial and management misunderstandings, and make sure your business is governed by your own rules — not default rules created by your state.

Step Five:  Apply for your EIN.  You will need a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your business.  There is no filing fee with the IRS.   DO NOT use any other link than the official IRS link.   To make sure, type in “www.irs.gov” in your browser and then find the application link within their site.   There are MANY phishing sites out there that would love to have your personal information.

Step Six:   Business Licenses.  Depending on the type of business you operate and where it is located, your LLC may need to obtain other local and state business licenses.   Call your County to make sure that you are in compliance.

These instructions and much more information can be found on the GA Secretary of State’s site:

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ObamaCare – Ready or Not….

obamacareI am in a closed networking group which I would highly recommend to any to any business owner.   My group is Network For Success which meets weekly here in the Cumming, GA area.   As a new business owner, I truly love to hear the detailed presentations given by the members, as I get a chance to learn not only about their business offerings, but about the people and processes behind the store-front.

One of the group members I really respect is Peter Clavijo.   Peter co-owns Employee Benefits of Atlanta, and is educating our group on what to expect with the all-encompassing changes of Obamacare, or as they call it – “The Affordable Care Act”.    While I’m not so sure how affordable it will be in the end for either the employer or the employed, here are a few great pieces of information that he has shared with us, and has allowed me to share on my blog (all comments are strictly my own).   This information came to Employee Benefits of Atlanta via one of their partners, Kaiser Permanente.

Will you qualify for a federal subsidy to help pay your health premiums?

Here is a link to a Subsidy calculator.   http://healthreform.kff.org/subsidycalculator.aspx

This calculator illustrates the premiums and subsidies for people purchasing insurance on their own in new health insurance exchanges (or “Marketplaces”) created by the Affordable Care Act.  Beginning in October 2013, middle-income people under age 65, who are not eligible for coverage through their employer, Medicaid, or Medicare, can apply for tax credit subsidies available through state-based exchanges.

Additionally, states have the option to expand their Medicaid programs to cover all people making up to 138% of the federal poverty level (which is about $33,000 for a family of four).  In states that opt out of expanding Medicaid, some people making below this amount will still be eligible for Medicaid, some will be eligible for subsidized coverage through Marketplaces, and others will not be eligible for subsidies.

Using this tool, you can enter different income levels, ages, and family sizes to get an estimate of your eligibility for subsidies and how much you could spend on health insurance. As premiums and eligibility requirements may vary, contact your state’s Medicaid office or exchange with enrollment questions.


What are the Individual Penalties for not having insurance in 2014?

Click this link (PPACA Individual Mandate Penalty) to view a flow chart to see if you will have to pay a penalty for not purchasing insurance beginning in 2014.  The estimated penalty per adult goes from $94/year in 2014 to $700/year in 2016.   Purchasing health insurance through an exchange would vary by age, but is estimated to be around $5,000/year for an adult in 2016.

Good news though… if you’re in jail or an illegal immigrant, you don’t have to either purchase insurance or pay a penalty! 


What are the Employers’ Penalties for not providing insurance in 2014?

Click this link (employer__penalty_flowchart_1) to view another flow chart, showing the penalties that Employers must pay if they do not offer insurance under Obamacare.    The good news for very small businesses (for now) seems to be that if you have fewer than 50 FTE employees, whose average wages are under $50,000, you will not have to pay a penalty.  Note though that this is for 50 full-time equivalent employees.   One full-time employee, according to Obamacare, equates to 30 hours per week.

Keep in mind that this piece of legislation is still evolving and is undoubtedly extremely complicated.  Make sure to contact your insurance professional to get a better understanding of all the requirements.    Employee Benefits of Atlanta provides individualized guidance and a whole host of benefit products such as life, health, vision and dental for large and small businesses, as well as for individuals and families.  They also customize Executive Bonus and Deferred Compensation plans for valued employees, and have just added identity protection services as well as Pet Care Insurance!

If you have questions or want to know more, contact Peter.

Peter Clavijo, Employee Benefits of Atlanta

770-757-1282   |   peter@benefitsofatlanta.com

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